If I Ran the Zoo

Book review by
Peter Lewis, Common Sense Media
If I Ran the Zoo Book Poster Image
Dr. Suess imagines a better, brighter, zanier zoo.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 18+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Dated racial and great-white-hunter stereotypes.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the cut-up verse skips like a step-dancing troupe, the creatures are crazily imaginative concoctions, and the narrator is amusing -- and enviable.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLebron12James3 April 2, 2020

AMEN ANONYMOUS 11 YEAR OLD THAT MADE HIS HER OR THEIR REVIEW ON February 20

You should go read that review because I agree 100%. BTW by February 20 I meant February 20 2020.
Adult Written byKumquatre September 13, 2019

Pretty Racist

Hey so my kid got this book from the library and it has racist depictions of Asian people and Middle Eastern people. So maybe skip this one, it hasn't aged... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old February 20, 2020

Spiff read my mind

Go on the parents side and read spiff’s review it is literally my opinion but someone else thought of putting it on CSM first.
Kid, 11 years old February 11, 2020

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

OMG THIS BOOK IS SO RACIST!!! I FOUND THE EBOOK ON THE DR SEUSS TREASERY APP, AND THEY SHOW VERY STEREOTYPICAL DRAWINGS OF BLACK PEOPLE AND THE SOUND EFFECTS TH... Continue reading

What's the story?

Seuss's zoo is better and brighter than the ones we know, with its Joats and Lunks and Mulligatawnies from locales like the Desert of Zind and the Wilds of Nantucket. Young Gerald McGrew imagines the creatures he would put on display, the distant lands where he would track them, and the inventive means he would use to trap them.

 

Is it any good?

IF I RAN THE ZOO is a standard -- and by that meaning the standard -- Seuss joyride of verse and ridiculous creatures. Here is life lived as a fantastical experience, lit by an imagination that shimmers and bursts like fireworks. Though the animals are pure figments, Seuss transports readers into the adventure with Gerald McGrew as he globetrots in search of the best wild animals.

So evocative are the places that an 8-year-old rereading the book after an absence of three years announced "Russia!" when a snow-swept, spruce-darkened village of cupolas came into view. But Seuss stumbles as he dishes up some shockingly quaint verbal and visual racial commentary: "I'll hunt in the mountains of Zomba-ma-Tant / With helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant," or the Indian chieftains whom Gerald will display along with the "scraggle-footed Mulligatawny," or the African porters. Now is as good a time as any to have a discussion about this racial typing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about zoos. What animals would you want to have in your zoo?

  • Do you see some dated racial stereotypes in the book? How have attitudes changed over time? How does the media reflect changing values?

Book details

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